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SMEDAN, ITScope partner to launch i-MSME portal for economic development

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SMEDAN supports 25 textile clusters in Katsina State

… As Experts task FG on PPP to bridge infrastructure deficit***

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) on Thursday night in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ITScope Consulting Limited to launch the i-MSME portal.

The Director-General (DG) of SMEDAN, Dr Dikko Radda, said the i-SMSE portal would foster economic growth and development of all MSMEs in Nigeria when deployed.

Radda urged Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to leverage on the portal to grow their businesses.

Describing the i-MSME portal as a real-time integrated ICT platform, the DG noted that it would provide a digital solution to most of the problems faced by MSMEs in Nigeria.

“There are lots of things that are put in place today to ensure that the MSMEs can use a digital platform to enhance their businesses and add value to their productions.

“For you to grow your business you need a bit of competition, and this will provide a platform to enable MSMEs to compete globally.

Also read: SMEDAN to award 150 licenses to business service providers

“We are seeing a lot of improvements on the use of technology.

“Since COVID-19 started, a lot of MSMEs have embraced the use of technology in the sale of their products, purchase of their equipment and in getting customers and this has helped in the growth and development of MSMEs.

“With this platform in place, I think we will have the end-to-end progress in the use of technology and digital economy,’’ Radda said.

He asserted that the portal would aid the ongoing mass registration of MSMEs in the country by SMEDAN.

“SMEDAN is carrying out a mass registration exercise for the last three years and we will continue on the platform.

“The essence of the mass registration is to ensure the MSMEs have the details of where they operate, what kind of services they render, what they produce and what location they are.

“This is so that we can have and source for data and anybody who requires data on any of those MSMEs can get it,’’ Radda said.

The DG expressed the agency’s commitment to strengthen efforts to sensitise stakeholders to key into the programme.

Earlier, Mr Ajibola Edwards, Executive Director, ITScope Consulting Limited, said that the partnership proposed to create the first MSME socio-economic digital solutions ecosystem in Nigeria and Africa.

According to Edwards, it will set off a holistic multiplier effect for Gross Domestic Product growth and drive the engine of the informal sector of Nigeria.

“The direct connection between SMEDAN’s programmes, ITScope Consulting and the i-MSME, will allow MSMEs to quickly access funds and address other challenges encountered by the sector.

“This includes real-time access to local and regional markets, logistics issues, accounting and tax issues as well as reducing the high cost of doing business among others,’’ he said.

In another development, financial analysts have urged the Federal Government to explore more Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models as a panacea for the country’s 1.5 trillion dollars infrastructure deficit in the next 10 years.

The financial analysts said this in separate interviews with the newsmen on Friday in Lagos.

A tax consultant, Dr McAntony Dike, said that the involvement of the private sector would change the infrastructural trajectory of the country.

Dike, who is a former President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, said encouraging more big corporates to fix decaying infrastructure and granting them temporary tax relief was quite innovative.

“This tax holiday model to fix infrastructure by corporates is good because due process is often followed through.

“Transparency is entrenched and the suspicion that trails government infrastructural projects, does not exist here,” he said.

He noted that private sector-led investment to fix infrastructure was the best because the government could not fund them due to more competing demands.

“The Federal Government’s responsibility has surged, due to the times, and there is no serious improvement of its revenue.

“Especially now that the economy is just gradually recovering from the headwinds caused by the pandemic,” Dike said.

Also, the President Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr Boniface Okezie, said that harnessing more of the PPP approach could bridge the infrastructure gap.

“The model over the years has been a vehicle to transform critical infrastructure deficit and economic development.

“Particularly in advanced economies, where they have successfully bridged their infrastructural gap to a reasonable level,” he said.

Okezie noted the Build Operate and Transfer, (BOT) approach was another antidote the government could consider more often to fill the infrastructural gap.

“This model allows the investors to manage the facilities over time and return it to the regulators after their investment has been recouped.

“Our authorities could harness these approaches to fix key infrastructure that is imperative to the country’s economic growth,” he said.

Okezie said that the Federal Government might also come up to the capital market to raise funds for key infrastructural needs.

Newsmen report that President Muhammadu Buhari told world leaders that Nigeria needs at least 1.5 trillion dollars in the next 10 years to close its infrastructure deficit and achieve an appreciable level of the national infrastructure stock.

Buhari said this in Glasgow at a COP 26 high-level side event on improving global infrastructure.

 

Economy

SON vows to checkmate quackery in management system practice

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SON vows to checkmate quackery in management system practice

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) says it has mapped out plans to get rid of quacks involved in management system practice in the country.

Its Director-General, Malam Farouk Salim, made this known on Thursday at a one-day stakeholders’ engagement for the National Register for Conformity Assessment Practitioners (NRCAP) in Lagos.

Salim said the move would put an end to unscrupulous individuals who shortchanged companies and individuals.

According to him, the quacks lacked the required competency to operate in the management system space.

Salim said that conformity assessment practice was central to the sustenance of commercial success and continuity in all sectors.

He said that management system practitioners were vital toward ensuring that practices carried out by the industries “are in alignment with the international best practice in terms of the expectations of existing conformity assessment standards”.

“It is in view of the importance of the authenticity and traceability of products and services to meet the requirements of relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards and other approved specifications.

“SON seeks to pursue the implementation of Part II, Section 4(d) and Part III, Section 5 of the SON Act No.14 of 2015.

“Via the operation of the NRCAP scheme, in order to establish a directory of verified and registered Conformity Assessment Practitioners in Nigeria for all laboratories, management system consultants, Training Service Providers, Certification bodies, inspection bodies, inspectors, auditors and assessors.”

He said that lack of regulation of activities of the practitioners over the years had negatively impacted the industry and country significantly.

Salim listed other impacts including: “poor protection of genuine practitioners, unhealthy competition, poor visibility and recognition of genuine and competent practitioners capable of attracting patronage.

“Others are poor value for money for unsuspecting customers patronising quacks who deliver poor services.”

He also said that lack of official register of competent practitioners to aid national planning and coordination of economic activities that border on standardisation and quality assurance was also a challenge to the growth of the economy.

“This engagement is guided by the strategic collaboration/partnership that SON shares with various organisations over time, especially with the SON Management Systems Certification and Training Services Departments with which you interface through your customers, of which you are expected to bring to bear, your wealth of experience to this national call,” he said.

The SON director-general said that the registration processes, including approved guidelines, expectations of benchmarking Conformity Assessment standards and interests while developing the documents, were taken into consideration to ensure that impartiality of the process was assured.

He said that adequate training was given to the practitioners to boost their service delivery.

Earlier, Bode Oke, the First President, Society for Management System Practitioners of Nigeria, said the group would join hands with SON to stem quackery in the system to ensure that consumers get value for money they spent.

Oke said: “We are here to gain more knowledge and to join SON in the registration of all management system practitioners.

“We are going to partner with SON to ensure that the exercise is successful because we have a lot of companies practicing management systems that are not trained and competent.

“We are working together with SON to ensure that we remove all those incompetent people from the system.

“So that whenever a client approaches practitioners for registration, the client will know that he will not be shortchanged and get value for the money spent,” he said.

Oke said that the roles of system practitioners were vital in business growth and development.

He stressed that the system practitioners were responsible for taking companies through quality management systems certification, environmental management system certification, occupational health and safety certification and food management system certification.

“The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has established standards for all management systems.

“And, therefore, anyone that would lead companies to obtain this certification must be competent.

“This is why SON is regulating all the auditors, consultants and even, the certification bodies because we have some certification bodies coming from outside the country that are not competent, so competency is the key word here,” he said.

In her remarks, Patricia Solarin, a Consultant in the Quality Management System Practice, said that standardisation was germane for industrial development.

Solarin said: “There are so many briefcase-carrying consultants that are going around duping clients and most of these consultants did not even pass their audit test and examination.

“Without standardisation or regulations, it will be difficult to stop the quacks. A lot of companies are being shortchanged, because people taking them through certification do not really know much.

“So, SON is trying to register auditors and consultants, which is a welcome development to ensure that people get value for their hard money spent.”

She commended the leadership style of Salim for taking a bold step to tackle the challenges, urging the government to support SON to achieve greater feats.

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Economy

NECA wants FG to tackle challenges stifling businesses

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NECA wants FG to tackle challenges stifling businesses

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged the Federal Government to demonstrate commitment to addressing monetary and fiscal policy challenges stifling businesses.

The NECA Director-General,  Mr Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde,  made the call in a statement on Thursday in Lagos, listing such challenges as foreign exchange dichotomy, fuel subsidies, multiple taxations, among others.

He made the call, just as he commended the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and government for embracing dialogue to avert the nationwide strike by the workers’ union earlier scheduled to start on March 29.

“The quick response by the government to ease the cash liquidity and the corresponding immediate positive effect on the economy demonstrated that it has the capacity to address policies once it is determined to do so.

“Therefore, we call for similar determination and consultative engagements with the private sector and other relevant stakeholders to proffer solutions to business challenges in order to facilitate competitiveness and productivity, “ he said.

He commended the efforts of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the Minister of Labour and Employment for personally getting involved.

He also lauded them for monitoring the disbursement to ensure compliance with the bank’s directive to end the cash crunch, of which the economic nerve centre and other areas had started witnessing improvement.

“The CBN has shown goodwill and true support for the ailing economy by immediately disbursing cash to the commercial banks.

“Also, by directing the banks to open beyond their normal working hours to ease the cash crunch in the nation: an action which could have been averted in the first place, “ he said.

Oyerinde, however, warned that the ripple effects of the cash swap policy would linger as it would take considerable time for businesses, especially the informal sector, to recover.

He said that many of them had closed due to low purchasing power of consumers.

The NECA chief said that business activities had stagnated in the last 10 weeks of the implementation of redesigning of the currency policy nationwide.

He said this had led to reduced productive output, high inventory and jobs cut, and impediments to personal and business transactions.

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Economy

Court Declares Activities of Kogi Transport Management Agency as Illegal

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Court Declares Activities of Kogi Transport Management Agency as Illegal

…Says laws establishing KOTRAMA is inhuman***

A Kogi High Court on Thursday declared the activities of the Kogi Transport Management Authority (KOTRAMA), as illegal.

Justice Clement Kekere of High Court 10 made the order while delivering judgment in a case instituted against the agency by an Abuja-based lawyer,  Mr. Martin Atojoko.

Kereke, who faulted the law establishing KATROMA.

“By the evidence before the court, I hereby order that the Law establishing the agency be set aside forthwith.

“This is because the law made by the state house of assembly contravenes the Provisions of the Federal Road Safety Commission Act 2007.

“In all, the laws establishing KOTRAMA is inhuman, and is established to cause hardship on motorists,” the judge held.

The judge also awarded the plaintiff, N100,000 as general damages against the agency.

Atojoko had sued KATROMA and joined the Kogi House of Assembly, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and the state government as second, third and fourth defendants in the matter.

Atojoko had prayed the court to compel the defendants to pay him N10 million as general and exemplary damages for inter-alia the first defendant’s unlawful and illegal action of detaining and impounding his car.

The plaintiff had told the court in his originating summon that on June 22, 2022, he was stopped by officers of KOTRAMA over an expired driver’s licence while they impounded his Toyota Corolla car.

“My lord, I only got my car back the next day, after paying N10,000 in fines, an action which is but a contravention of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Law of 2007, ” he said.

Atojoko thereafter prayed the court to issue an order declaring that the second defendant could not make laws empowering the first defendant to exercise the powers of the Federal Road Safety Corp (Establishment) Act, 2007 in inspecting the driver’s license of motorists, issued by the FRSC and codifying same in Kogi Road Traffic Administration and Vehicle Inspection Law, 2018.

“A declaration that all the provisions of the Kogi Road Traffic Administration and Vehicle Inspection Law, 2018, empowering the first defendant to exercise the powers of the FRSC in the inspection of the driver’s license of motorists as invalid, illegal, unlawful, null and void ab initio.

“An order that the KOTRAMA cannot fine the plaintiff and impound his vehicle with registration No. 2T1BU4EE9AC312480, without first trying him and finding him guilty before a court of competent jurisdiction.

“An order that the act of the first defendant in impounding the vehicle and fining him without powers to do so is invalid, illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void, ab initio,” he pleaded.

But KATROMA and other defendants through their Counsel, Mr. B.O. Obenege, had debunked the claims of the plaintiff and said that the agency acted within the ambit of the law that established it.

Obenege claimed that the house of assembly Law that established KOTRAMA was not a duplication of the FRSC Law of 2007.

He prayed the Court to hold that the action of KOTRAMA has not contravened the Kogi Law or any other law, and the claimant was given a summary fine of N10,000, all in accordance with Section 1(3) of the Law.

“In conclusion, we urge your lordship to dismiss the case for lack of merit,” Obenege had pleaded with the court.

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